A BRITISH criminal currently serving a prison sentence for drug dealing in the UK will soon be extradited to Cyprus to face accusations of developing and trading in Greek Cypriot properties in the north, the British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed yesterday.
It will be the first time the Cyprus government has brought a case in Cyprus against an individual for the illegal development of Greek Cypriot property in the north.
Forty-eight-year-old Gary Robb, who escaped to northern Cyprus after being released on bail for drug dealing in the UK in 1996, will be re-arrested and deported to Cyprus on July 13 – immediately after he is released from jail in Britain, the CPS told the Cyprus Mail. After 13 years of hiding out in the north, Robb was sentenced to five years when recaptured in January 2009, but will be released on parole next month.
Before his recapture by British police in 2009, Robb established AGA Developments, a property development company that allegedly lured hundreds of unsuspecting Britons into investing in villas and apartments built on Greek Cypriot-owned land in the north. British police believe around 400 Britons collectively lost in the region of 35 million UK pounds in deals with Robb’s AGA Developments. AGA’s notorious Amaranta Valley project located close to the north coastal village of Klepini still consists of 500 rapidly decaying half-built properties.
According to information provided by the CPS yesterday, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) charges Robb with nine offences and states that “between 2004 and 2005, the defendant conspired with others (named as Tuncel Tahir Soycan and Akan Kursat Talat) to develop land which did not belong to them, and to sell villas built without permission upon that land by means of false representations to the prospective purchasers”.
All cases against Robb refer to properties he sought to develop in the Kyrenia district and “concern the fraudulent sale or offering for sale of villas on the illegally-developed plots of land”.
Two other charges cited in the EAW accuse Robb and his compatriots of conspiracy to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour. All the alleged offences are believed to have occurred between April 2004 and April 2005.
If Robb does appear in a Cyprus court, Greek Cypriot judges will not however be focusing on the losses of unsuspecting Britons, but on the losses of the Greek Cypriot landowners whose properties he dealt in.
As Greek Cypriot lawyer Constantis Candouna told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, “It is the Greek Cypriot refugees who are the victims. For the Brits, it was as if they were buying stuff off the back of a lorry”. He advised Britons who had been cheated by Robb to apply to courts in the UK or the north.
European arrest warrants for Robb and his two AGA associates Tahir Soycan and Akan Kursat were first issued in 2005 by a Nicosia court amid allegations the three were trading in illegally acquired Greek Cypriot properties in the north. Turkish Cypriot police however did not act on the warrants because the territory remains outside EU jurisdiction, and because its authority did not view Robb’s selling of Greek Cypriot property a crime. Britain, it seems, has waited for Robb to serve his sentence for drug dealing before deciding to enact the EAW.